Thank you for taking part in the Jesuit Artists Workshop III at Sameeksha at the beginning of this month. Your presence made a significant contribution to the workshop, not only from the perspective of another medium, but also from the perspective of a woman religious very sensitive to the social issues that women in India face daily. Of course, I am also very thankful that you loaned me one of your dolls for my still-life painting. The intense colors of the cloth and the elegant angles of the arms of the woman made the doll a fitting subject for a painting.
I probably should not be surprised that artists in India –among whom I certainly hope you number yourself – have such a strong social sense. Certainly Christian artists express the Lord’s concern for the downtrodden and forgotten that comes out so clearly in the Gospel. I see your work as a continuation of the Gospels, a kind of parable in cloth that allows people to see the characters they know from their lives but probably don’t want to consider.
I found it interesting that the reporters who came to the exhibition on the final day of the workshop instinctively gravitated towards your dolls. With all the wealth of painted images on display, the small dolls reached out and grabbed their attention. That is the power of your art work, a power that should not be underestimated. I hope that you can continue with the Gospel stories project and that your creativity will continue to find ways to cut through the cultural clutter that keeps people blind to the suffering and injustice in their midst. And I hope that you continue to collect the stories that women share after they have seen themselves in your dolls.
Our work as artists can seem an indirect way to serve the Gospel, yet it has the potential to be the most powerful evangelical voice. In a country in which Christians form such a small minority, the simple eloquence of your creations can bridge the gaps between us and invite people to find a common ground where they can discover God. That is a very important mission which I hope you can continue. Your community should be proud of your contribution as a religious.
Wishing you all the blessings of the Lord.
~ Fr Thomas Rochford SD
Secretary of Communication, Rome, May 2006